rape kits

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Assembly Republicans were set Wednesday to finally hold a public hearing on some form of legislation designed to prevent a backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has been pushing Assembly Republicans to pass two bipartisan bills that would create new kit submission protocols and create a new database to track kits. Both measures cleared the Senate in October but the Assembly Health Committee’s chairman, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, has refused to hold a hearing on them.

Kaul has made sexual assault kit testing a campaign issue; denying a hearing for either bill deprives the attorney general of a major political victory. Assembly Republicans moved Friday to seize the issue from the Kaul, introducing a third bill.

This one would incorporate the submission and tracking proposals in the original bills. It also would create a sexual assault victim bill of rights, mandate police notify immigration authorities of anyone in the country illegally arrested for or convicted of sexual assault and allow student victims to enter school choice programs regardless of eligibility.

Both the immigration notification and school choice provisions are non-starters for Democrats. Still, Sanfelippo scheduled a hearing on the bill just hours hours after it was introduced.